Social work

A Call to Celebrate: National Social Work Month

Panelists meet virtually for National Social Work Day at the UN

March marked a month of celebration for the social work profession. Social workers around the world are recognized for the dedication, time and empathy they give to their work throughout the year. As the commemoration draws to a close, a look back at the history of National Social Work Month and the exploits of the superhumans who make up the field.

History of National Social Work Month
National Social Work Month was officially recognized by the White House under President Ronal Reagan in 1984 and continues to be a means of appreciation for people who work hard and strive for positive change. The purpose of Social Work Month is to highlight the impactful contributions the profession makes and to raise awareness of social issues.

Each year, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) chooses a theme to highlight during National Social Work Month. The theme for 2022 is “Now is the time for social work”. Social work has been around for decades bringing about progressive change through advocacy on social issues and it continues to do so today. The theme is still relevant, but especially now, drawing attention to the need for social workers following the coronavirus pandemic which has accentuated social problems and inequalities, as well as an increase in mental health problems, addictions and loneliness.

Who, What, Where?
Social work is about using evidence-based practices to promote change and development while adopting an empathetic and empowering perspective for the communities they serve. Social workers can be found in many areas of the workforce, including healthcare facilities, schools, drug treatment centers, the criminal justice system and more. Although social workers can take many forms, they have in common a desire to help others. Wherever they are, they can be counted on to help people overcome the life challenges they face.

Social workers perform their work with respect and commitment to the following core values:

  • A service.
  • Social justice.
  • Dignity and value of the person.
  • Importance of human relations.
  • Integrity.
  • Skill.

More information about the work of social workers can be found on the NASW website here.

National Social Work Day at the United Nations
Each year, social workers and social work students from the United States and around the world gather at the United Nations with the goal of increasing social workers’ knowledge of global social issues and raising awareness of the profession.

This year marked the 38th annual Social Work Day, which took place on March 17. The event is usually held in person at the United Nations, but this year it was held virtually. The theme of the conference was “Towards Food Security for All: The Role of Social Work” which focused on the ways in which food insecurity has increased and the role social workers should play in addressing social issues that contribute to food inequalities.

The conference was organized by Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, Rutgers University School of Social Work and Monmouth University School of Social Work. All welcoming the lead panelist which included: Dr Seki Richemont, MD specializing in food and nutrition security, Dr Robin Sakina Mama, Dean of Monmouth University School of Social Work, and Professor Hilary Weaver and Associate Dean for Diversity. , Equity and Inclusion for the University at Buffalo School of Social Work.

Dr. Widian Nicola DSW, LCSW, is a professor at Seton Hall University and president of the NASW New Jersey chapter. She notes the impact of the month:

Social Work Month commemorates and celebrates how the profession – and by extension, all social workers – continues to be committed to meeting the intersecting needs of our community. We come together to learn, connect, and challenge ourselves to remain committed to addressing the social issues of our time. For example, this year hundreds of social workers gathered at the 38th annual United Nations Social Work Day to discuss the role of social work in addressing food insecurity. When we come together, we claim and galvanize the collective power we possess.

You can learn more about Dr. Nicola and the impactful work she does by subscribing to her podcast here.

Tribute to social work
There are many ways to participate in National Social Work Month. Whether you are a social worker, know a social worker, or simply admire their work, things like using social media to promote the profession, attending advocacy events, supporting colleagues, educating others to raising awareness or a simple thank you helps in the effort to support the value of social work.

Everyone has their own way of recognizing the month. Madison Urraro, LMSW, is a social worker at JFK College in the Comsewogue School District in Long Island, NY. She and her peers celebrated the month by buying social work-themed t-shirts. Urraro reiterates the importance of National Social Work Month: “As a social worker, I never expect anything in return from those I help. This month is really uplifting because it’s nice to feel that sense of appreciation others.”

The need for social workers is greater than ever and, as always, they will do so with concern and empathy. Now is the time for social work and now is the time for society to show the appreciation and value they deserve. Although the month may be over, the work continues for social workers, show your support throughout the year by giving thanks and expressing your gratitude!